Saturday, November 30, 2019

12 Days of Elf on the Shelf

Saturday, November 2, 2019

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Toddler School: Apples, Apples, Apples


We love apples around here! I'm pretty sure I could fill an entire month with apple activities. I had a really hard time narrowing down the activities I wanted to do for this week, but I decided to do a balance of favorites and new activities!

If you're new around here, here's the run down on how I toddler school:
- I do weekly themes with my little ones
- All activities are adaptable to meet your kiddos wherever they are
- Each activity is play-based and focuses on the development areas of your little one
- I do one activity a day (usually) that lasts around 20-30 minutes


I'm not going to lie - this week has been a challenge to get everything done! Between coming off of the flu, Cohen starting preschool and Avery getting his 2 year molars it has been a tricky balancing act for sure. 

Here's what we did this week:

You can get my blank thematic planner here.

Books:
I did not take a picture of our bookshelf this week - oops! But here are a few of our faves!

Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship
by Edward Hemingway

Up, Up, Up! IT’s Apple Picking TIme
by Jody Fickes Shapiro and Kitty Harvill

Ten Apples Up on Top
by Theo LeSieg

Apples, Apples, Apples
by Elizabeth Wallace

Apple Picking Day!

by Candice Ransom and Erika Meza


Activities:


Apple Pie Sensory:

This sensory table smells AH-mazing! Dry oats, apple/cinnamon potpourri (for smell of course), measuring cups, apples (fake or real) and pie tins! We made lots of apple pie this week!

For added skill practice I would ask for specific pies: only red apples or 1 red and 2 yellow. You get the idea! Make it fun and educational at the same time!


ABC Apple Sticker Tree:

Stickers - a crowd favorite for sure! I made 2 different trees to accommodate both the boys skills and abilities.

Avery (2): Letter matching. For him I just did capital letters so they were an exact match. He has about 90% of his uppercase letters down now so I will start introducing the corresponding lowercase letter soon! Avery was not a fan of the stickers. Every time it got stuck on his head he would say "no". It cracked me up! He had me put the stickers on and he pointed to where the matching letter was. 🤣

Note: If you follow my IG stories, you know that I always say the letter name AND sound together to start forging that connection. So when I say he knows his letter names, he is also learning the sounds simultaneously.

Cohen (4): To extend the activity for Cohen we did -all words! He changed out the beginning sound with stickers to create new -all words. He is a really strong reader but doesn't have a strong grasp on rhyming yet so I am working on rhyming and word families with him.



Indoor Apple Picking:

This activity was a big hit! To set up: Tape off a tree on the floor and add apples (paper, plastic, real - it doesn't matter!) Call out an apple for your little one to "pick". (Ex. Pick a green apple. Pick a small apple. Pick an apple with a worm in it.)

To make it extra cute you could even provide them with an apple picking basket to collect their apples in!


Homemade Applesauce:

We went real apple picking too! However our favorite u-pick had closed for the season so we couldn't actually pick anything - bummer! But we did grab some fresh apples while we were there! So we used those to make some homemade applesauce.

I love getting my little ones involved in the kitchen and food prep whenever possible. I think it is a really important skill that is often overlooked these days (in my childhood included). This recipe is super simple and your kiddos get to do all the work fun!

Here's how to make it:
1. Peel and boil apples ahead of time until soft
2. Place apples in a ziploc bag
3. Add 1 tsp. lemon for every 2 apples
4. Add cinnamon to taste (optional)
5. Let your little one squish the apples in the bag! Shake. Squeeze. Stomp. Anything goes!
6. Scoop out and enjoy!

It really is that easy and my boys loved it!


Apple Sorting:

I am a big fan of sorting activities and I like to incorporate them into most of my themes! I just love all the skills they use for this simple activity! For this one I hid our apples around the house so the boys had to seek them out first and then they got to sort. 

For Avery (2): We sorted by color
For Cohen (4): We sorted by rhyming words

The best part? Just re-hide and replay as many times as you'd like!




STEM Apple Tree:

We busted out our building and problem solving skills with this fun STEM activity. I'm going to be honest with you, we don't do nearly as many STEM activities and I wish we did. I'm going to try to incorporate 1 a week from now on, but we will see how that goes.

Materials:
TP roll
Green Popsicle Sticks
Red Poms

For this one the challenge was easy: build an apple tree that could hold all 6 apples. It was really cute (and impressive) watching the boys problem solve as they learned about balancing and weigh distribution. I was really impressed to see the many different trees they created!


That's a wrap! No printables this week!



Up next week: Fall Leaves 🍂🍁

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Toddler School: Football Theme!

Toddler school is back! And in true #momlife fashion this is the week that both of my kiddos get the flu! Go figure. 😅 Needless to say we didn't get everything done that I wanted to but such is life. We are just rolling with it!

 It feels so weird good to be blogging again. And I am so excited to kick it off (see what I did there!?) with a fun football theme! 🏈

If you're new around here, here's the run down on how I toddler school:
- I do weekly themes with my little ones
- All activities are adaptable to meet your kiddos wherever they are
- Each activity is play-based and focuses on the development areas of your little one
- I do one activity a day (usually) that lasts around 20-30 minutes



Here's what we did this week:

You can get my blank thematic planner here.

Books:
One of my favorite things about setting up a new theme is getting all the cute books that go along with it! Here are some of our favorite football themed books:


Austin Plays Fair
by Tony Dungy

Dino-Football
by Lisa Wheeler
**Cohen (4) is dinosaur obsessed (like many 4 year olds are amiright?)
so this one was by far his favorite**

Goodnight Football
by Michael Dahl

My First Book of Football
by Beth Bugler

My Football Book
by Gail Gibbons

NFL 1-2-3
**Avery (almost 2) LOVED this one in particular. It was so cute
hearing him read the numbers for me**

T is for Touchdown
by Brad Herzog


Activities:

Football Sensory Table:
This is a super cute and easy to set up sensory table! We just used our green rice, mini footballs, mini helmets, mini trophies and goal posts. Anytime I'm working on a new theme I always take a trip to dollar tree first! You can find all kinds of fun themed things there to toss into any sensory table 👌

Encourage your little one to explore the sensory table! Use helmets and trophies to scoop. Flick footballs through the field goal posts. Just have fun with it!

** In the beginning little ones will need supervision and help learning the boundaries and rules associated with sensory play **




Touchdown Letters:
Using yellow construction paper create goal posts onto butcher paper. Print out the letters included and glue onto butcher paper. Practice calling out letters and having your little one find them!

Don't want to create a giant field goal? You can get a small printable version here! Fo' freesies!



Football Drop:
Prep football drop box by coloring a shoe box green and adding goal posts. Cut slits into the box and label with shapes! Print and cut out football shapes (you can get these in the activity pack below!) Work with your little one to identify the shapes and drop into the right goal post!



Football Cubes:
Print and assemble cube. Let your little one roll the cube and identify the number shown. 

To add in a little gross motor fun: once your little one identifies the number have them do that many jumps, laps, etc.


Football Art:

Football Kicker:
Truthfully we did not get to this activity this week due to all the sickness but it is super easy to set up! Using plain 'ol paper write numbers 1 through 5 (1 number per page) and lay on the floor in a line - think like a football field. Let your little one kick a football and call out the number they get!

Want any of this week's printables?  You can grab them here!







Up next week: 1st Day of Preschool 🏫

Saturday, August 24, 2019

How to Build the Perfect Sensory Bin!

Fall is right around the corner! 

I am really excited for this fall for a number of reasons:

1. I love fall and everything about it! The cooler weather, the boots, the PSL (it comes back on the 28th, don't worry, I asked. You're welcome), everything!

2. Cohen starts preschool this fall and we are a bag of mixed emotions over here. He will be going 3 days a week from 9-12. It will be a crazy adjustment but I think he's going to rock it!

3. Fall also means back to our routines and toddler school! We always take a break in the summer due to all the craziness with travel, good weather and the general overheated laziness that overtakes our family. By August though, we are all feeling it and ready to get back into our normal routines.

4. Since big brother will be in school part time that means mama will get some much needed (and wanted) one on one time with Avery. I can't wait to do all the toddler school activities with him that I got to do with big brother when he was younger. I am really looking forward to this special time with my baby and I can't wait to watch his love of learning grow just like brother. 💙




With the new school year starting here at Confessions I wanted to share how we do sensory tables! We use sensory table religiously. I swap ours out every week to fit our changing themes and we love them. If you're new to sensory tables or don't know where to begin - don't get overwhelmed and just have fun with it! Also remember Rome wasn't built in a day and in that same breath your toddler won't be responsible with the table right off the bat, it takes learning! Our first few sensory tables ended up ALL over my couch/carpet. 

Whether you're a seasoned expert when it comes to sensory tables or brand new, I'm going to share some of my favorite tips and tricks for building the perfect sensory table. 

The Basics
First things first, you need a place to contain all those fun sensory learning experiences. You can buy one on amazon, make your own or totally just use a plastic bin! Whatever works for you! Personally I built one! I wanted to have a dedicated table the boys could stand at and explore. It also breaks down for travel AND has a lid. We've also added decals to the lid to make a play stove top, turned it upside down and filled with Christmas lights to make a light box and even taken it outside to double as our water table! I love how versatile it is! We made ours 4 years ago and it's still going strong!

Now I know that sounds like it's probably super fancy, but trust me when I say that me building anything is laughable so if I can do it, so can you. It took less that 10 minutes and cost about $30. 

You can find the DIY link here!


The Filler
The filler is the base of any sensory table! It's the thing that takes up the bulk of the space. Think small items you can buy in bulk. Some of our favorites are:

* Rice
* Noodles (cooked or dry)
* Sand
* Oats
* Sticks/twigs
* Cotton balls
* Shredded paper 
* Corn kernels
* Dry beans (there are so many color and size/shape options here)
* Water Beads
* Ice (when it's hot outside)

You see where I'm going here! Another fun tip is that a lot of these things can be DYED to make it more fun and engaging!

The Tools
This can be as simple as cups for sorting, tweezers for grabbing, magnifying glasses, water droppers, you name it! Whatever you want to add in to help your kiddos explore!  

I don't always add tools to mine but it is a nice addition sometimes!


The Add-Ons
Now this is where the magic happens! The add-ons are the fun things you hide in the sensory bin! Here's where the theme comes into play generally! Our favorite things to add:

* Toobs (these are little tubes of animals/vehicles/etc) - we have a bajillion of these for a variety of different themes
* Mini erasers 
* Picture cards - can have letters, numbers, animals, words, whatever!
* Gold coins

Get Creative here! This is really the fun part!

    

Clean Up/Storage
This can often be the most intimidating part of sensory tables - what do you do with it when you're done playing? The nice thing is that most of these items store and last FOREVER. Just toss anything that can't be reused and store the rest or easy pull out next time!

I buy these little dollar tree storage bins and store everything so I can bust it out at a moments notice! Here's a little peek into my storage - I apologize for the quality of the photo my toddler storage room is rather dark so this is as good as it gets. 🤷


I hope you've gotten some new ideas from this post! I can't wait to see what you come up with! 

Do you have any favorite sensory activities!?